The federal workforce is large and diverse so generalizations about a large group can be difficult.
But, having done these polls for some time now, it is possible to make several observations about the workforce. First, the workforce is generally more liberal on political issues than the public as a whole. Perhaps this is because many employees are located in large metropolitan areas and reflect the political mores of these areas. It may also be because the pay and benefits of the workforce come from tax revenues and Democrats are generally regarded as favoring larger government budgets. Or it may be that people who are attracted to government employment instead of the private sector reflect segments of society that already generally subscribe to a more liberal political philosophy.
In other words, we don’t really know why but the results in polls on political issues generally reflect this trend. For this reason, when our last poll showed George Bush leading Howard Dean, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination at the time, the outcome was a surprise and indicated significant political problems for Dean. (See the link on the left hand side of the page for the summary of the Bush-Dean poll.)
While we did not know it at the time, the outcome of our last poll was prescient. Within a few days of our poll, Howard Dean’s lead in Iowa and New Hampshire evaporated and John Kerry moved into the lead for the nomination in nationwide polls. Not surprisingly, some of the reservations our readers had about the Dean candidacy were shared by Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Our latest poll generated considerable interest. With over 1200 readers telling us how they would vote, Kerry comes out on top 52% to 40% for Bush. Another 6% of readers would vote for other candidates and 3% are still undecided.
A Newsweek poll taken within a few days of this poll indicated Kerry and Bush are virtually tied in a hypothetical nationwide election as Kerry was preferred by 48% of voters to 46% for Bush in the Newseek poll. (As noted above, federal readers generally vote more for Democrats than the population as a whole.)
Reasons given by poll respondents for their support of Kerry often reflect issues unique to the federal workforce. A number of people said they would vote for Kerry because of their concern about contracting out of federal jobs. Others mentioned more general issues such as their disagreement with military action in Iraq.
Readers supporting President Bush often mentioned his decisive action against terrorists and their belief that Bush was the best person to ensure the security of our country. Other reasons given include his integrity and ability to make decisions in the best interests of the country.
Here is a sampling of the hundreds of comments sent in by our readers.
A program analyst from the Army at Ft. Leonard Wood wrote: “President Bush would get my vote over anyone who would run against him. He is doing a great job and I just wish we could extend his term to another 8 years or more. He is honest and trustworthy and has the country’s best interest in all his decisions. May God keep him in His care.”
A mechanic with the VA in Missouri said he was voting for Bush. “The Democrats have to realize that an agenda laced with tax increases and rollbacks of the Tax Relief Act of 2001 is not going to fly with the American people who are trying to plan and take care of their own retirement/future.”
An engineering technician with the Navy in Jacksonville, FL said Bush had his support. “I don’t agree with all of the Presidents policies, however, the Democrats slate scares me. I don’t think our country could stand another Democratic President no matter who he or she might be. ”
A public affairs assistant in Alexandria, VA had this to say about President Bush: “I think Pres. Bush has weathered some tough times, but has stuck to his guns — he’s a man of great faith and integrity, which is what our country desperately needs! ”
A human resources specialist with the Army in Vicksburg, MS saw the election this way: “A New England liberal versus a moderate Southerner – No contest.”
A quality control specialist with DoD in California expressed his preference for George Bush this way: “When the Democrats get in we better get ready for another 9-11.”
And a Department of Interior employee in Billings, Montana had this praise for the President: “Bush is the first president in a very long time with enough courage to do the right thing…in spite of politics.”
A number of Kerry supporters seem generally angry with the current administration. Also, we noticed that those favoring Kerry would cite dislike of Bush or administration policies as the reason for their vote. In other words, very few readers spoke out in favor of the Democratic candidate but, instead, expressed unhappiness with George Bush.
For example, an employee with the Department of Education in Dallas wrote: “Bush must go. Any Democrat is preferable over Bush.”
And a financial analyst with the Dept. of Interior in Denver expressed his beliefs this way: “Any Federal employee who would vote for George Bush should be ashamed of themselves (sic). He is not only trying to take our jobs away but he also doesn’t feel we deserve the same raise as the military. Then he will turn around and praise Federal employees.”
A computer specialist with the USDA in Kansas City wrote his reason for supporting John Kerry is: “Anyone but Bush will get my vote this year. His inability to tell the truth from fiction (WMD wise if nothing else) and his inability to go after Bin Laden have secured my vote for his opposition.”
An accounting technician with the USDA in New Orleans is voting for Kerry because: “There is a war on gov’t employees…appears that friends of the President are the winners & we are the losers. Everything going to BIG BUSINESS.”
An air traffic safety specialist with the FAA in Kansas City says: “If one’s primary concern is to save your Gov’t. job, the incumbent has got to go. To my mind, Kerry is a viable alternative.”
Thanks to all our readers who took the time to vote in our latest poll and for sharing your opinions with others.